Sunday, 13 July 2014

Layer Upon Layer of Birdlife


Spotted Pardalote

Do you like bushwalking or just walking through a park or reserve? As you walk through do you look at all the different patterns and textures?
Spotted Pardalote-photo courtesy of Geo Nature

Parks, reserves and the bush is not just groups of trees. They’re made up of many different interconnected layers of plants and animals, all with different sunlight and moisture needs.
Let’s find out what birds occupy the different layers of greenery.
 I'm talking.with ecologist Sue Stevens

Did you know that there were so many layers within a forest, or bushland that birds occupy.
Not just the two or three that are most obvious.
Spangled Drongo-photo Geo Nature

Within this layered structure of plants in the bush or reserve live a vast number of birds and insects.
These animals also occupy different positions in the various layers of trees shrubs and groundcovers.
For example, the White Browed Scrub Wren lives in thick bush, but the grey fantail prefers thin bush.
Within the tree layers there's top, middle and the trunk that could be occupied by tree creepers, spangled, spangled drongos and spotted pardalotes right at the top.
Some birds live at the tops of the trees and feed on berries, while others, collect insects from the bush floor.
Red Browed Finch feeding on grass seeds-photo Geo Nature

Some insects live high in the different trees, feeding on leaves or other insects, some live in rotted logs, while others, find their habitat in the leaf litter on the forest or bush floor.
Then there's water birds,-shore birds, waders and pelagic birds which are those sea birds that don't come to shore.
If you have any questions about birds that occupy different habitat layers or have a photo to send it, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.



Originally not a vegetable meant for consumption, celery was used for medicinal purposes, as a flavouring herb, and sometimes fed to horses. Celery or Apium graveolens is in the same family as carrots.

If you’ve ever let your celery self seed you would’ve noticed that the leaves become a bit feather and the flowers look like those of carrots.

Did you know that celery leaves and inflorescences or flowers were part of the garlands found in the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun (died 1323 BC),?

Another interesting bit of trivia is the romans used celery seed in pills for relieving pain (as described by Aulus Cornelius Celsus) around 30 AD.

The Greeks believed celery to be a holy plant and so it's not surprising they wore necklaces of it at their version of Olympic Games.

For the ancients there was not much difference between celery and parsley. In fact the name for parsley actually means rock-celery.
Have you tried growing Celery and found it to be too much work?
Celery has had that reputation of being a difficult crop to grow, mainly because traditional varieties need a lot of work and attention - they have to be planted in deep trenches and require layers of soil added regularly to blanch the green stems. Otherwise the celery tastes too strong and bitter.
I know of one gardener who uses sheets of corrugated iron against his celery patch to blanch them. Must love his celery!

When to Grow

In sub-tropical districts you can plant them from April until November, Tropical districts only from March until July.
In temperate zones-August until December.
For Arid areas-May until August.
Finally cool temperate districts-I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until September, then you’ll have until the end of December

What Celery likes:

Celery prefers moisture, well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Apart from Beetroot last week that can grow in partial shade-this is like a mantra to growing all vegetables.
A short row can be squeezed into a garden, raised bed or you could even try dotting the odd plant into a border. If you have a tiny garden it's possible to grow celery in very deep, long tomato style pots.
Celery is a biennial plant (which means that they flower, fruit, then die in the second year) but are generally grown as an annual.
Celery prefers warm days and cool nights and grows best in a clay to sandy soil with plenty of moisture.
Soil preparation
Dig the soil (in the spring before planting), removing big stones, weeds and incorporating plenty of garden compost or well-rotted manure.
A week or so before planting, rake a general purpose organic fertiliser (90g per square metre) into the surface layer of the bed.
How to sow seeds
If you have time, plants can be started off by sowing seeds
The seeds take 1-2 weeks to germinate.
Celery seed is tiny, so take a pinch and lightly sow across the surface of the soil. Watering from the top is likely to disturb the seed, so fill a bowl with water and put in the pot. It can be removed once the water has been drawn to the surface.
Finish by covering with a thin layer of vermiculite and putting in a heated propagator on a windowsill or in a greenhouse. Water daily to ensure the compost doesn't dry out.
Take the seedlings out of the propagator when they've germinated. They're ready to be given pots of their own when the first proper leaves have formed.  That means at least 4 leaves.

Plants will be ready to go outside about five weeks later, when they're 8cm tall.

For perfect plants with lots of well-branched sticks, plant celery seedlings about 27cm  or a ruler width apart making sure that the crown of the plant is at ground level.

Plants will grow better if they're arranged in a grid pattern, rather than planted in long rows.

TIP: The secret to fresh crisp stalks is plenty of manure and water, don't let the soil dry out as it has shallow roots.
Keep celery well-watered and the area around them free from weeds.
Plants can be given a boost by feeding with a balanced liquid fertiliser about a month after planting.

Celery will be ready for picking in about 3 ½ to5 months, depending on the variety you grow.
When picking your celery just lift plants using a hand fork, taking care not to damage neighbouring plants.

One of the main advantages of growing your own is that you can individually pick the stems one by one rather than taking out the whole bunch.

TIP: For best flavour and longer storage, water celery plants the day before harvest.

Best Varieties
Did you know there are, self-blanching varieties that don't need earthing up to produce tender white stems?
A variety called Celery Dorata D' Asti and Celery var. Dulce is available from Diggers Seeds
and Stringless American that is normal to use unblanched is available Green Harvest organic seeds.
I'll be getting my seeds from them rather than buying celery seedlings and having to try and blanch (unsuccessfully) then ending up with bitter tasting celery.

The Dorata  variety is easier to grow than other varieties, remaining crisp and juicy without the need for blanching. The lime-green stems can be snapped off from summer through to autumn and winter.
Although plants can be grown from seed sown in early spring, it's far easier to buy ready-grown seedlings, which can be planted out in August onwards, depending on what zone in Australia you live..
There's also a Golden self Blanching variety, which by all accounts, tastes the best.  

Why is it good for you?
On top of the above celery health benefits, celery is known to be a negative calories vegetable.
Which means that the body uses more energy to digest than absorb calories from it!
Add the fact that Celery's high water content and fibrous nature mean that it is great for those who like to snack without gaining weight
A medium stalk of celery contains around 10 calories, 2g of carbohydrates, 1g of protein, zero fats and cholesterol!
Celery leaves can also be eaten or used in soups or used to make celery  juice.                  




with landscape designer Louise McDaid
 Research by the Nursery and Garden Industry of Australia has shown that a lot of people visiting garden centres find them intimidating places.
Perhaps it’s the myriad choices, especially in spring when flowers are in full bloom, or it’s all those botanical names-a different language really.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed and buy the same annuals you’ve always had or simply choose plants, seed packets or bulbs that catch your eye. These approaches aren’t exactly the most inspiring way to plan a garden.
Stephanotis climber-highly scented
And if scent’s important to your you might want to consider this next theme
Let’s find out what this is all about.

Themes give you a way to organize plants around an idea.

Princess Pink Lavender-New Release
That challenges you to make it more interesting, and you’re going to come up with an original idea.

A theme may also reflect your passion. If scent is important to you, you’ll be attracted to a perfume garden.

As in any garden, it’s important to choose plants appropriate to your climate and the area’s sun exposure. Plants with similar water and sun-exposure needs should be planted together.
Plants like rosemary don’t need a lot of water, but thyme and basil need regular watering, -So that kind of thing can affect your plant groupings.


They say that polka dots never go out of style, and the same could be said about pink flowers.
There is actually a pink splash plant that has polka dots on it-what a combination.
Pink flowers are used as a symbol of love and awareness.
Did you know that for decades, pink flowers have been used to decorate weddings as a symbol of love? More recently, pink flowers have come to symbolize breast cancer awareness.
Or you could say thanks with pink flowers or just enjoy them yourself.
If you’re looking for that special plant for a special occasion, be it a birthday,Easter, Mother’s Day, or an everyday gift – or you’re looking for a plant for yourself why not go for a Pink Splash.
Every plant in the Pink Splash range will create a wow factor with their striking colours and what’s more you can select a plant for colour in any season – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter – with most providing colour over more than one, and it can grow in cool temperate as well as warm temperate regions.
Available from Sprint Horticulture


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